Report: NCAA rule breakers could face NFL sanctions

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Warning: slippery slope ahead.

For those who are unaware, the NFL announced Thursday that former Ohio State quarterback Terrelle Pryor is eligible for their supplemental draft that will be held this coming Monday.  One caveat: he will be suspended for the first five games of the NFL’s regular season, and will not be permitted to participate in either practice or games until the suspension is completed.  The reasoning behind the suspension, the NFL stated in its release, was that “Pryor had accepted at the end of the 2010 college football season a suspension for the first five games of the 2011 season for violating NCAA rules”, and that he had subsequently “undermine[d] the integrity of the eligibility rules for the NFL Draft” by “failing to cooperate with the NCAA” on their investigation into the OSU football program.

Based on one report, it appears the NFL may be hellbent on making such a thing the new norm when it comes to players bringing their college baggage into the pros.

Mike Freeman of CBS Sports.com writes that the NFL, “in conjunction with college football and the NFL Players Association, is considering a series of actions that would discipline players who are busted in college for violating NCAA rules, then skip to the pros unscathed.”  This will henceforth, of course, be known as the Reggie Bush Rule if adopted and survives what would certainly be a legal challenge by a player or players.

The punitive measures the NFL is considering, Freeman reports, include fining or suspending players who were found to have committed NCAA violations after they came to the NFL.  Any fines collected would go toward paying a school’s legal fees incurred by defending allegations of violations or to a scholarship fund.

In recent months, members of the NCAA, NFL, NFLPA and AFCA have all met to discuss ways they can help college football curb what appears to be escalating rule-breaking at that level.  Certainly the NCAA would be open to any and all help it can get, while the NFL will undoubtedly bend over backwards — how far as evidenced by the Pryor decision — to maintain their free farm system.  The AFCA, whose members consist of college football coaches, are also likely open to anything that would make it easier for their constituency to compete on a level playing field.

The NFLPA, however, may be a tougher nut to crack when it comes to cooperating for the good of the college game.  While the player’s association would have no problem in lending a hand with the agent/runner issue that still plagues the college game, they might buck at its membership being penalized by the NFL for something that occurred while in college.  Freeman, though, reports that the NFLPA is open to the dialogue currently being offered up by the NFL and the NCAA on this issue; how open the NFLPA may be is reflected by the fact the they reportedly signed off on Pryor’s suspension.

Even if the NFLPA hurdle is navigated, there could very well be legal obstacles to overcome.  In fact, there most certainly would be legal challenges.  While I applaud the NFL for its gesture, even as it’s far from altruistic, there appears to be a very slim chance this could ever come to fruition.

Of course, if the NCAA had subpoena power, none of this grandstanding by The Association’s football big brother would be necessary, but that’s another story for another day.

I do have one question, though: would the same standards that the NFL wants to apply to players also apply to coaches?  Let’s say, purely hypothetically of course, a coach were to abandon a Southern California college football program six months before near-historic sanctions were levied for a head-coaching job with a professional football club in the Northwest; would he be subject to the same type of NFL-mandated punishment as his players?

One would have to think that the NFL would most certainly want to hold its coaches to a higher standard than its players, right?

Ah yes, a slippery slope indeed…

New Mexico AD Paul Krebs in hot water for Scotland golf trip

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New Mexico AD Paul Krebs (right) had it all figured out. He wanted to go to Scotland to play golf (who doesn’t) but he didn’t want to pay for it (who does?). So he came up with a solution: he’d turn it into a UNM fundraising trip and make the school pay for it.

The school sold 23 packages to travel across the pond for a getaway of luxurious accommodations and bucket-list golf, but put the bills of himself, two UNM executives and a handful of local businessmen on the school’s dime. Lots of dimes, in fact. The trip cost the Lobos nearly $65,000.

“The trip was a working trip and it was designed to immerse us with these donors. It was an intensive experience and I understand why people may question it,” Krebs told KRQE-TV earlier this month.

Despite his attempt at justification, it appeared Krebs knew from the start the trip was an ethical no-no. The $65,000 bill was classified as a basketball tournament on UNM’s accounting paperwork, and Krebs failed to disclose the nature of the June 2015 trip to acting president Chaouki Abdallah until last week.

“VP Krebs came to me and told me that he wanted to tell me something that he had forgotten or did not tell me before,” Abdallah told KRQE. “I was not happy.”

It is not clear why the UNM Foundation or the Lobo Club,  non-profits that handles the school’s and the athletics department’s fundraising efforts, respectively, did not cover the cost of the trip, especially since Lobo Club executive director Kole McKamey was one of the UNM officials who was on the trip. Putting the bill on the university’s ledger also appears to be a violation of the state’s anti-donation laws. The $24,000 cost to take the Albuquerque businessmen has since been refunded by an anonymous donor.

“(Krebs) told me about it in no uncertain terms,” Abdallah told said. “He didn’t try to sugarcoat it. He said I made a mistake. I didn’t tell you about it before. Here’s what happened. I’m going to try to fix it.”

 

Miami Beach Bowl officially moves to Frisco, Texas

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The Miami Beach Bowl was an unnecessary bowl game played in a metro area already populated by bowl games — but at least it was in Miami. Bowl games may have lost their luster over the past decade-plus, but it’s hard to complain about being sent to South Beach in December for a football game.

The Miami Beach Bowl is no more, and it’s now been reincarnated as another unnecessary bowl game to be played in a metro area even more populated by bowl games — and it won’t be anywhere near as interesting as Miami.

Meet the Frisco Bowl, the newest ESPN-created postseason college football game to be played in the scenic locale of Frisco, Texas.

The north Dallas suburb will host the game at Toyota Stadium, a 20,500-seat outdoor venue that’s home to MLS club FC Dallas as well as the FCS National Championship every January. The Frisco Bowl will also compete for sponsorship dollars and public attention with the Cotton Bowl in Arlington, the Heart of Dallas Bowl in Dallas and the Armed Forces Bowl in Fort Worth.

“We are pleased to be able to host this game in one of the most vibrant football markets in the country,” said ESPN vice president of events Clint Overby. “The infrastructure and facilities that exist in Frisco are outstanding and will be an excellent venue for the teams, players, administrators and fans traveling into the marketplace. We look forward to working with civic organizations and businesses in the area to create an annual event that embraces the spirit of the community.”

The first annual Frisco Bowl will pit an American Athletic Conference team against a to-be-determined conference at 8 p.m. ET on Dec. 20.

2017 Texas signee sees felony drug charge reduced to misdemeanor

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It appears the door to one member of Texas’ 2017 recruiting class arriving in Austin this summer has opened a little wider.

In late February, Reese Leitao was arrested at his Oklahoma high school on a charge of possession/delivery of a controlled dangerous substance with intent to sell within a thousand feet of a school, a felony.  Tuesday, the Austin American-Statesman is reporting, Leitao pleaded guilty to a misdemeanor drug possession charge.

As part of the plea agreement, Leitao received a four-year deferred sentence; provided he stays clean during that time, the charge will be wiped off his record.  The American-Statesman writes that, “[a]ccording to Leitao’s attorney, Leitao has ‘some probationary work,’including speaking engagements at schools, and will be under the supervision of the district attorney.”  A $1,000 fine was part of his punishment as well.

The ball is now in the hands of first-year UT head coach Tom Herman as to whether Leitao will have a football future with the Longhorns.

“I’m happy,” the attorney, Allen Smallwood, told the newspaper. “Hopefully the University of Texas will be happy.”

At the time of Leitao’s arrest, a statement attributed to Herman said that “[w]e’re collecting information, will talk to Reese and his family, let the legal system run its course and then address it further at the appropriate time.” As of this posting, the university has yet to publicly address the development.

Leitao was a three-star 2017 signee, rated as the No. 19 tight end in the country and the No. 8 player at any position in the state of Oklahoma.

Miami All-American, NFL Hall of Famer Cortez Kennedy dead at 48

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One of the most physically-gifted and talented players in the history of Miami Hurricanes football is gone way, way too soon.

The Orlando Police Department confirmed Tuesday afternoon that Cortez Kennedy passed away earlier today.  He was just 48 years old.

No cause of death has been determined, with the OPD stating that “at this time there is nothing suspicious to report but we are conducting an investigation regarding his unattended passing.”

After starting his collegiate playing career at the junior college level, Kennedy moved on to the University of Miami, earning All-American honors in 1989.  In 2004, he was inducted into the university’s Sports Hall of Fame.

The third overall pick of the 2000 NFL draft, Kennedy spent his entire 11-year pro career with the Seattle Seahawks.  In 2012, he was inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame.

Not surprisingly, Kennedy’s sudden passing has brought an outpouring of emotion from those connected to the football program.